Homebuyers needing to finance their home are required to pass a stress test, and it's about to become harder to pass. Here's what you need to know about the stress test as it stands currently and what is about to change.
Introduced in 2018, the stress test for insured mortgages requires applicants to meet criteria that prove they could continue to make mortgage payments based on higher interest rates. For a stress test, mortgage lenders calculate the Gross Debt Service and Total Debt Service ratios to decide if applicants have a high enough income and low enough debt load to make higher mortgage payments should rates increase.
"Regulators plan to ratchet up the country's dreaded "stress test" qualifying rate for mortgage borrowers. As of June 1, loan applicants—regardless of the mortgage rate their lender has offered them—will need to prove they can afford an interest rate of 5.25 percent before getting approved for funding. The current benchmark is 4.79 percent." - Regina Leader-Post
Similar to crash tests done on new vehicles to determine the safety and integrity in the worst-case scenario, the same forward-thinking testing is done in the world of finance. Stress tests will model a bad scenario before the investment is made to show what would happen in case of a financial misfortune, and help determine exactly how much you can afford. If you were to suddenly have a reduced income or lost your job, could you still afford to make the same mortgage payments? What if interest rates were to spike, or you needed to refinance your home? This type of rainy-day planning is essential for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, interest rates are constantly in flux; as are home prices. According to CREA (the Canadian Real Estate Association), the average home price in Canada was over $500,000 in January 2020, up 11% from a year before. It's important to know that you can still afford to pay your mortgage if interest rates increase and could affect the kind of home you decide to buy.
Ultimately the new mortgage rules are in place to protect the Canadian housing industry by ensuring that Canadians are not over leveraging themselves. As a home buyer, this could mean that you will have to settle for a lower budget. Despite the frustration of some Canadians, it is expected that mortgage rates will rise, and this test will help you make sure you don't overextend yourself. This will protect you from future difficulties when interest rates eventually increase.
According to the Bank of Montreal, uninsured homebuyers who qualify with a 20% down payment or more will have their minimum qualifying rate based on either the 5-year benchmark rate offered by the Bank of Canada or the rate offered by their mortgage lender plus 2%—whichever is higher. On the other hand, buyers with default insured mortgages—making a down payment of less than 20%—must qualify using either the Bank of Canada 5-year benchmark rate or the rate offered by their mortgage lender, whichever is higher.
When you're in the process of qualifying for a mortgage, the stress test may seem like one more obstacle you need to overcome. Keep in mind, though, that it's there to protect you from future rate increases. And if you're feeling overwhelmed or like buying a house may not be possible right now, please don't hesitate to contact me. I can help you assemble a team of real estate professionals who will make the home buying process far less stressful.
Known as the Paris on the Prairies, Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan. With the South Saskatchewan River flowing through its centre, as well 6 traffic bridges and 2 train bridges, it has also been called the City of Bridges by many, too! No matter what nickname you choose to use, though, there is a lot to love about the city of Saskatoon; and more and more people are choosing it as a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family! Why? Well, here are just 10 reasons why:
Saskatoon lies on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River and has wide, tree-lined streets amid vast parks and green spaces. Listed by Reader’s Digest as one of the top 10 greatest hikes in Canada, the Meewasin Valley Trail extends for 60 kilometres along the east and west banks of the South Saskatchewan River. The trail is also great for cycling, running, and walking your furry friends, and is well-maintained year-round.
From the Wintershines Festival to the Saskatoon Blues Festival, the Fringe Festival to the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, Saskatoon is home to many festivals throughout the year. No matter what your interests, there is a season for you, and plenty of fun for the whole family at the city’s annual Exhibition Fair!
As the city’s slogan states, ‘Saskatoon Shines’! No matter the time of year—whether the ground is cloaked in snowy white or graced with green grass—the sky overhead is likely to be filled with sunshine. Residents of Saskatoon enjoy an average 2,381 hours of sunshine every year (a fact which undoubtedly contributes to their sunny dispositions). If you are looking for a place to soak up the sun, visit one of the city’s 198 parks or take a drive out to one of the many nearby beaches found at Pike Lake or Blackstrap Lake Provincial Parks.
What do Paris and Saskatoon have in common? Bridges! Six traffic bridges and two train bridges span the city, all of which cross the South Saskatchewan River, and make travel through the city quick and convenient, no matter where you are coming from.
For those who love live performances on the stage, the Persephone Theatre is made for you! Sigh, laugh, cry, and immerse yourself in the world of creative theatrical performances hosted at the Persephone throughout the year, including comedies, classics, tragedies, and even contemporary pieces. The theatre offers something for everyone, so discover the beautiful world of the human imagination and experience it all for yourself.
The Remai Modern Art Gallery sits on the banks of the Saskatchewan River, and offers 11 gallery spaces and spectacular views of the twisting waterway over the city plains. It hosts an assortment of art designs and tastes from the 21st century, and is regularly updated, so you can visit over and over again for a new experience each and every time!
Wanuskewin Heritage Park is a monument to the history of the Northern Plains indigenous people of Canada. It features a beautifully renovated heritage site—home to exhibits, a gift shop, and gorgeous conference and event spaces—as well as over 6 kilometres of walking trails amongst the stunning landscape. The park is designed to help visitors connect and understand the culture of bygone societies and their bond with the land.
Saskatoon enjoys one of the lowest costs of living among major cities in Canada. This means that you will pay less for housing, utilities, food, and taxes in Saskatoon than in other similar-sized or larger cities. Paying less for these essential things means that you will have more money available for saving or spending on less essential items!
The Saskatoon real estate market is known to be quite generous, giving you much more bang for your buck than other major Canadian cities, such as Toronto or Vancouver. The average price of residential properties in the first quarter of 2021 was just $333,826. The mature Nutana area, the family-friendly Sutherland neighbourhood, vibrant City Park, and the peaceful Avalon district are some of the most popular places to settle down in.
Of course, these are just some of the reasons you’ll love living in Saskatoon, should you decide to buy a home here. If you’re ready to move to Saskatoon please reach out to me. We can discuss your neighborhood, and lifestyle wish list and find a home that will suit your needs!
The Saskatoon real estate market is hot right now. Buyers are searching for homes for sale quicker than they are coming on the market, and homes in certain price ranges are seeing an increase in value. This is making it even tougher to get onto the property ladder as a first time home buyer. These programs from the Government of Canada may be helpful to you if you are ready to start your house hunt:
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is just like it sounds—an incentive for first time home buyers to buy their first house.
If you have the minimum down payment for an insured mortgage, you can apply to finance a portion of your home through a shared equity mortgage with the Government of Canada. For a purchase price of $500,000 or less, the minimum down payment is 5%. When the purchase price is above $500,000, the minimum down payment is 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% for the remaining portion.
A shared equity mortgage is where you take a smaller mortgage, in exchange for your lender owning some equity in the home. You’ll essentially become a co-owner of the property alongside your bank lender. You’ll get to live in the house, but only borrow a fraction of the purchase price. When you sell the house, you’ll share the profits and losses from the sale with the lender, in line with your equity share.
The Home Buyer’s Amount is a non-refundable credit for first-time home buyers and buyers with disabilities. It offers a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit amount on a qualifying home acquired during the year. For an eligible buyer, the credit will provide up to $750 in federal tax relief.
The Home Buyers’ Plan is a program through the Canada Revenue Agency that allows eligible first-time home buyers to withdraw up to $35,000 in a calendar year from their RRSP to buy or build a qualifying home. The program states the funds withdrawn must be paid back within 15 years.
To begin buying a house, start by assembling a team of real estate professionals to guide you through the process. Your lender can help you understand exactly what you can afford, and the steps you can take to afford the home you want. They can also give you solid advice on whether the first-time homebuyer incentive is something you should participate in. Your lender can then provide you with a pre-approval which will help your REALTOR® assist you in not only finding a home, but also in making an offer and negotiating the real estate agreement on your behalf!
When you buy a home with a REALTOR®, you gain peace of mind knowing they’re trained professionals who work with property purchase contracts on a daily basis. Having said that, you are still the principal on this contract and you should never sign anything that you do not fully understand. Let’s dig a bit deeper into a typical real estate purchase agreement, specifically looking at conditions and clauses.
An Agreement of Purchase and Sale is a written contract between a seller and a buyer for the purchase and sale of a property. In the agreement, the buyer agrees to purchase the property for a certain price, provided that a number of terms and conditions are satisfied.
The process begins when the purchaser makes an offer, which is irrevocable for a certain time period. If there are no counteroffers and the agreement is signed by the seller within the time period the offer was left open, then the agreement becomes legally binding. At this point the agreement cannot be cancelled unless both parties agree. If the offer is not signed before the offer expires, it will become void.
Fixtures are improvements made to a property that are attached or cannot easily be removed without causing damage to the property. Examples include: hot water heaters, built-in cabinets, light fixtures, etc. These items are assumed to be included in the sale of the home, unless they are specifically excluded in the agreement.
Chattels are moveable items of personal property, and must specifically be listed in the Agreement if they are to be part of the sale of the home. Examples include: appliances, lawn and garden equipment, blinds or drapes, etc.
The requisition date is the time within which the homebuyer has to examine the title, and complete all other searches. It is within the buyer’s best interest to do a number of searches to ensure that there are no problems with the property. These include things such as searching the registered ownership of the property with the land registry, checking that the property complies with zoning regulations, and searching for any outstanding municipal work orders. Usually the buyer’s agent and lawyer will handle this.
The removal date is the date on which conditions must be fulfilled, waived, or removed for the agreement to be binding and for the transaction to proceed to closing.
Closing arrangements are when all relevant documents are exchanged by the lawyers on both sides of the agreement and the sale is finalized.
The completion date or possession date is the date that the seller must give vacant possession of the property to the buyer.
The rest of the renovations that you may be considering will need to be decided on individually. This is where your REALTOR® will be a big help deciding whether or not these renovations will pay off, depending on the overall standard for the rest of the neighborhood and for homes in a similar price range, as well as how seriously out of date your home may be currently.
There are numerous types of conditions that might be included in the Offer to Purchase, including:
Financing Condition - This offer is conditional upon the buyer obtaining approval of a mortgage on the property in the amount set forth in the agreement on or before a given date.
This condition is typically included to protect the buyer in the case that they are unable to secure the required financing, causing them to lose their deposit and potentially being sued by the seller for non-completion of the transaction.
Subject to Home Inspection - This means that the offer is conditional upon the inspection of the subject property by a professional home inspector, and the obtaining of a report satisfactory to the buyer in their sole discretion on or before a given date.
The home inspection clause is standard and appears in almost every residential real estate transaction. This condition gives the buyer the right to have the home professionally inspected by a certified home inspector to evaluate the house that is being sold. This condition is the buyer’s way of being protected from the unknown deficiencies in the home. The house must pass the inspection for the purchase to proceed or the buyer and seller may further negotiate their agreement to account for the findings in the home inspection.
Subject to Encroachment Check - This means that the offer is conditional upon the buyer obtaining and approving a satisfactory encroachment check on or before a given date.
An encroachment check will help the buyer determine if the building(s) on the land comply with zoning bylaws or if there are any encroachments by building(s) onto adjacent lands. The survey will also determine whether any building(s) from neighbouring lands encroach upon the subject’s property. A recent survey can disclose the location of fences to the property boundary and if there have been recent additions to the property. Lastly, the survey helps to determine whether anyone else may have a claim against the subject property or if any rights of way or easements exist.
Subject to Gas Line Encroachment - This means that the offer is conditional upon the buyer obtaining and approving a satisfactory gas line encroachment check on or before a given date.
This condition is usually standard, and is simply a request submitted to SaskEnergy to facilitate an inspection of the natural gas facilities at the property. Encroachments are classified in the following ways:
Subject to Property Information Disclosure - This means the offer is conditional upon the buyer obtaining and approving a satisfactory property information disclosure report on or before a given date.
A property information disclosure statement is provided by the City of Saskatoon or the necessary municipality at the request of the buyer. The information provided reflects the results of a search of existing building records, including building code, plumbing code, and deficiencies of the property at the time of the last inspection.
The report will also outline all building permits that have been issued for the property and whether there were any deficiencies at inspection. This report will help the buyer determine whether there has been any unpermitted work done on the property and if any deficiencies may exist.
Subject to Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PCDS) - This means that the offer is conditional upon the buyer viewing and approving the PCDS on or before a given date.
A Property Condition Disclosure Statement is a document completed by the homeowner at the time of listing the home for sale. In this report, the seller is required to disclose defects that they are personally aware of. The seller is responsible for the accuracy of the answers in the Disclosure and can be held accountable by law for any inaccuracies they knowingly provide.
Of course, you can also add any additional conditions that you feel are important for the seller to consider your offer. These include the sale of your own property, removal of garbage from the back yard, leaving window treatments, appliances, special lighting, etc. While the conditions are meant to protect you and you should take advantage of them, beware of including too many in the offer because you may lose the deal if the seller should reject your offer. Your experienced local REALTOR® will be able to help you best define which conditions to include in your offer, and guide you through the process!
Completing an Agreement of Purchase and Sale can be complicated and technical. Before the Agreement becomes final, it may get modified as the result of negotiations between the buyer and the seller, and counteroffers presented to the buyer by the seller. Be certain that you understand all the terms of the Agreement and review them with a real estate professional before finalizing the agreement.
Most homes sold in Saskatchewan have a home inspection condition in the contract of purchase because it is highly recommended that all buyers request one before they close on a property. Since there are often a lot of questions surrounding a home inspection, let’s take the time to review some of the more common ones:
A home inspection is a professional consulting service that determines the present condition of the home’s major systems, based on a visual inspection of accessible features.
A Home Inspection is:
A Home Inspection is NOT:
Every house needs a home inspection. Buying a house that reflects your lifestyle and meets your individual needs may be the largest and most rewarding investment of your life, but can also be very stressful. To ensure your hard-earned dollars are soundly invested, it is recommended that you have a Canadian Home Inspection performed. Plus, it will also provide you with a general maintenance report that can save you money in the future!
A home inspection will usually include an examination of the foundation, basement, roof, attic, heating and water systems, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as the general condition of the structure itself. For a condo, it will include electrical, plumbing, heating, deck, and other interior components of the unit, plus garage and roof, if access is allowed.
An inspector will look for poor construction practices and make note of any repairs that might be required or any general maintenance issues. Importantly, a home inspector will also make note of any fire and safety issues that need to be addressed.
A home inspection is requested by either the home owner or the home buyer and is an unbiased and non-invasive visual examination of the physical condition of the property. An appraisal is a process required for almost all mortgage loans that’s used to determine the estimated market value of a home. To determine the value, a third-party appraiser factors in the home’s location, its condition, and the value of similar recently sold houses in the area, also known as comparables.
The appraisal process includes walking through the home, researching comparables, and creating a final appraisal report. This report will provide the final determination of the home’s market value and will be used in the lender’s final decision to approve the loan amount. The lender typically cannot lend more than 97% of the appraised value of the home.
While they have different processes and serve a different purpose, appraisals and inspections do have a few things in common. For one, they both benefit the homeowner and the lender because they ensure the home is worth what you’re paying for it and that it’s safe to live in. Both also help to uncover any issues that may affect the sale, as well as make you feel more secure in your decision to either purchase the home or walk away from the deal. Furthermore, since these services are completed by a third-party professional who has nothing to gain or lose from the results, you can feel confident in their findings.
Definitely. Just because a home is new does not mean you should assume that everything is perfect. Inspections, however, can greatly reduce your risk. Inspecting a new home helps to identify deficiencies during the warranty period. Plus, the construction can be evaluated to ensure it conforms to building standards.
Although it is not required for a buyer to be present for the inspection, it is highly recommended. This is a great chance to learn more about your new home and ask questions to the professional about the condition of the home and how to maintain it. Also, having your real estate agent present will help prevent any miscommunication or any misinterpretation of information or questions on house deficiencies.
There are some situations where a home inspection isn’t necessary; for example, if the buyer intends to demolish the building. For the most part, though, a home inspection is necessary for the buyers to identify any concerns that may need to be addressed or that may even prevent the sale from finalizing.
As your REALTOR®, I have the experience of being involved in many home inspections and I can help you determine whether the inspection findings require further investigation or whether they affect the overall value of the home. It is my job to assist you through the entire home purchase process, from the initial hunt through to possession, and I will help guide you the entire way through!
Too often, people rush into buying a house when they’re not ready. Just because you’re sick of renting does not mean you should automatically buy a home thinking it’s the only alternative. Being sick of renting is most definitely a better alternative to buying and ending up with your finances in a mess or with a home that doesn’t fit your needs.
Owning a home is a big commitment, it’s not a guaranteed investment, and it’s a truckload of work. It can be a smart long-term move, but you want to know what you’re getting into. The following tips for buying a home are here to help you get started:
Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in what your loan terms will be. Know your score before you ever try to get a loan, and take the time to repair it if it's too low.
A mortgage pre-approval means you should be able to get the loan, so long as nothing changes about your financial situation or your credit score. A pre-approval letter also helps when you want to compete with another buyer for a home you love. One of the first things most sellers will ask their agent when receiving offers is how qualified the home buyers are to purchase.
There are a lot of fees that come with a home purchase, above and beyond the mortgage. Insurance, repairs, association fees, property taxes—you should have the income and the budget to handle all of these things if they are relevant to your purchase.
Real estate agents are licensed professionals who work on your behalf and advocate for your interests. In most cases, sellers have a real estate agent working for them, so you’ll want someone on your side—a buyer’s agent—who also has your back in negotiations and can help you understand how to make an offer on a home. But that’s not all! Your agent will also help you find homes that match your budget and needs, provide facts on a neighborhood, negotiate an offer, navigate the home inspection, decipher paperwork, and request and review seller disclosures.
Working with a real estate agent that understands market values in your local area is critical if you want to avoid overpaying for your house.
Another crucial thing to do before buying a house is to make sure the house listing is accurate. It would be best if you verified that all the information given about the home is right. Sometimes real estate agents put things in the listing that they may not have verified or may just not be aware of the facts.
The home inspection is one of the most vital aspects of buying a home. You will want to have someone performing it who is thorough and complete.
If a renovation was done without a permit, it might not have been done right. No permit means that the work was not reviewed by an inspector, something you do not want in your new home.
Remember: you can change the flooring and even the layout of a home, but you can never change its location.
Your mortgage pre-approval is based on the information given at the time of your application. Any changes, like getting a different job or taking out a car loan, can result in denial of the loan request when purchasing a house.
Then the last piece is making sure that the house is in great shape when it gets on the market. I have all sorts of connections for that—painters and stagers and people that can help with decluttering or anything that needs to be done. And I can give my piece of advice, too, as we walk through the home and help that seller decide what needs to be done before we get that on the market.
These tips should help put you on the path to filling in your home-buying knowledge. Remember: that the more you educate yourself about the process beforehand, the less stressful it will be, and the more likely you will be to get the house you want for a price you can afford. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone! With my help and guidance, you can always feel sure that you are informed and guided along the way!